Does organic farming enhance biodiversity in Mediterranean vineyards? A case study with bats and arachnids
Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment
The effectiveness of organic farming for promoting biodiversity has been widely documented, yet most studies have been undertaken in temperate agroecosystems with a focus on birds, insects and plants. Despite the Mediterranean basin being a biodiversity hotspot for conservation priorities, the potential benefits of organic farming for biodiversity there has received little attention. Here, we assessed the effect of farming system, landscape characteristics and habitat structure on biodiversity in Mediterranean vineyards using two taxa with different functional traits (in terms of mobility, dispersal ability and home range size): bats and arachnids. We also tested the intermediate landscape-complexity hypothesis, which predicts that local conservation measures have greatest success in landscapes of intermediate complexity. Our study design involved pairs of matched organic and conventional vineyard plots in the south of France situated along a landscape complexity gradient. Abundance of arachnids were higher in organic vineyards, although arachnid species richness was positively associated with the amount of ground vegetation cover. Organic farming was ineffective on its own to enhance bat activity and species richness regardless of the landscape context. Rather, our results suggested that landscape features were more important for bats than vineyard management, with significantly higher bat activity recorded on vineyard plots located at close proximity to hedgerows and rivers. When designing conservation strategies in Mediterranean farmlands, we strongly recommend the implementation of a multi-scale approach to assure benefits for a wide range of species.
Author(s): Froidevaux, JSP; Louboutin, B; Jones, G
Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment